NDN Blog

Column: Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump

In his new US News column,“Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump,” Simon argues that the new WikiLeaks release reminds us the campaign Russia is waging against the West and the US is an ongoing effort, not something that happened in the past.

An excerpt from "Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump" 

"The new Wikileaks release of sensitive CIA documents about its cyber capabilities is many things, but perhaps most importantly it is a reminder that the campaign Russia is waging against the West and the United States is an ongoing effort, not something that happened in the past.

Not only does this new release involve Wikileaks, the main outlet for Russia's stolen materials from the Clinton campaign and the DNC, but a big part of the new dump provides previously undisclosed information about the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence, the unit assigned by President Obama to respond to Russia's interference in our politics last summer.

In a normal time, Russia's re-emergence would be considered the greatest security threat to America and our traditional allies. But the Trump administration has been remarkably silent on the issue. Despite tweeting on issues ranging from the ratings of his old television show to Ivanka's businesses, the new president has not once gone to Twitter to condemn any of these Russian aggressions. Nor has he even acknowledged that Russia intervened in our politics last year (let alone condemned it) or authorized a collective response to its ongoing efforts to disrupt the politics of our most important allies in Europe.

Consider that not only has Russia taken unprecedented aggression in the homeland of the United States, but it is, right now, waging similar cyber/disinformation campaigns inside of many of our most important European allies. It has escalated its activities in Eastern Ukraine. It has broken a 30-year-old nuclear treaty with the United States, deploying new offensive nuclear capacity that threatens Europe. It has propped up the Assad regime in Syria, helping prolong the civil war there and keeping the destabilizing flow of refugees into Europe. And it is even expanding its activities in places like Afghanistan and Libya."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.
 

Column: The 'Shackles' Are Off

In his new US News column,“The 'Shackles' Are Off,” Simon examines the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.  

Be sure to also read Simon's recent column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

An Excerpt from "The 'Shackles' Are Off"

"The details of DHS's implementation memos of the president's immigration executive orders deserve special attention. In a memo on new enforcement rules released in the past few days, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly gave his immigration officers total discretion to detain anyone without a warrant, who "in the judgment of an immigration officer ... pose a risk to public safety or national security." The memo wipes away the Obama era prioritization of criminals and recent border crossers, making every undocumented immigrant in the US a priority for deportation (which was the policy till Obama changed it in 2011).

In the daily White House briefing last week, Sean Spicer described this new authority as taking the "shackles off" DHS immigration officers, freeing them up to go round up any one they choose not burdened by Obama era priorities. Anticipating that DHS would conduct wide raids and sweeps in administration officials describe as an "enforcement surge," a second DHS memo had to put in writing that American citizens and green card holders should be released if detained. So to be clear here – the U.S. government is anticipating that DHS immigration agents will be so aggressive that it will be common for U.S. citizens to be swept up and detained in the coming months.

And we've seen this already. An entire plane full of people on a domestic U.S. flight had their IDs forcibly checked last week. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the famous boxer and a U.S. citizen, was detained at a U.S. airport for hours. A native-born citizen from Puerto Rica was held in custody for several days before proving his citizenship. What makes this process ever more threatening of course is that the most common American form of identification, a driver's license, does not prove citizenship or convey legal status. Neither native-born nor immigrant Americans typically walk around with their passport or birth certificate. This means that if a citizen is detained it is not easy to prove lawful presence here, and many citizens may end up being held for days. If this feels a bit Orwellian, it is."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce

US News and World Report has published Simon's fourteenth column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will now appear every Tuesday.

This piece was the focus of a recent interview Simon did with KJZZ 91.5, the public radio station in Phoneix, AZ.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Has Donald Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?"

An Excerpt from "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

As the White House returns this week to immigration and travel bans, it would be wise for them to do a deep dive on the story of former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce was the legislative leader of Arizona's virulent anti-immigrant wave of a few years ago, culminating in his passing of the famous "papers please" SB1070 bill that became a model for states across the country. Pearce rode these politics hard, using it to become in 2011 the Arizona Senate president, the most powerful legislative position in Arizona.

The core of Pearce's strategy, aided by many of the same people advising Donald Trump, was to create a climate so harsh for undocumented immigrants that they would "self-deport." The anti-immigrant "restrictionists" behind this approach had moved on from seeking direct deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants, pragmatically realizing that the cost of direct deportation and the tolerance of Americans for what would be years of raids and broken families made deportation politically impossible. Arizona was the testing ground for this new, refined self-deportation strategy, one that at its core required the terrorizing of immigrant communities to be successful. The more fear, the faster the folks would go and the cheaper and more politically palatable this would all be. Fear, lots of fear, was (and remains) critical for self-deportation to work.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Release: NDN Calls on Trump, Congress to Respond to Russian Aggression in Europe

“There is perhaps no greater threat to the West and to the United States today than Russia’s escalating belligerence. In recent months Russia has stepped up its military campaign in Eastern Ukraine, taken other provocative actions on NATO’s edge, and today the UK and France had to scramble jets to intercept Russian bombers circling the UK.

But Russia’s aggression is also manifesting itself in its willingness to intervene directly in the domestic politics of the United States, the UK, France, Germany, Italy and other American allies. This unprecedented campaign is ongoing, as new reports from France indicate.

A traditional American President would be condemning this Russian aggression, holding high level consultation with our European allies, and discussing additional steps, including more expansive sanctions, to deter this Russian aggression. None of this has happened.

Despite commenting on dozens of often inane subjects on Twitter these past few weeks, including his daughter’s clothing business, the ratings of his television show and election fraud that never took place, our new President has refused to condemn these worrisome Russian actions. A failure to act decisively in the coming days will be appeasement of a newly aggressive Russia on a grand historic scale, and must not be allowed to happen. If the Trump Administration is unwilling to act Congress must step up. The new McCain-Cardin bill in the Senate is a good first step, and it deserves the support of all members of Congress in both parties. But it is only a first step, and countering a rising Russia and preserving the West must become the central foreign policy objective of American leaders now.”

Column: Has Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?

Friends,

US News just published Simon’s latest column, “Has Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?”

In the column Simon reviews the actions taken by President Trump in his early days and wonders whether the new President understands that he is making the fight against IS harder not easier. These steps include:

  • Angering the Iraqi Government (immigration Executive Order, other insulting comments)
  • Weakening the Global Coalition Against IS (conflict w/EU, Australia)
  • Inflaming Regional Sectarian Tensions (Conflict w/Iran will make it harder for Iraq to stay allied w/US)

Simon concludes:

“Beneath all of these early actions is an endearing truth about the battle against the Islamic State – there will be no defeating of the Islamic State or other jihadi groups through military might alone. Politics, coalitions, military strategy and sectarian reconciliation all have to be woven together to create true stability and peace in a region that has had far too little of either for far too long. In these early days it appears the Trump administration through its words and deeds is willing to sacrifice the ongoing global campaign against the Islamic State group for a new regional strategy that prioritizes conflict with Iran.”

Release: NDN Calls on President Trump to Demand Russia Honor Ukrainian Ceasefire

"Last night, the US State Department acknowledged that Russia is violating the Minsk ceasefire agreement and has escalated its military activities in eastern Ukraine. The State Department also acknowledged that this escalation began last Saturday, the day of the first phone call between President Trump and Mr. Putin. The Washington Post has a good editorial out this morning putting these activities in context.

NDN calls on the Trump Administration to forcefully defend the Minsk agreement and demand Russia and its forces in Ukraine to stand down. Given the President's statements about Russia over the past year, Americans have every reason to be concerned about whether it has become the policy of the United States to appease ongoing Russian aggression against its neighbors and the West. It was shocking that our President for example did not raise the issue of Russia's interference in US domestic politics - an ongoing activity some have equated to an act of war - in his call with Mr. Putin on Saturday.

Failure to take immediate concrete steps along with our NATO allies to encourage Russia to de-escalate will be a tactic sign of approval from the Trump Administration, and will signal a dramatic and unwelcome change in policy towards one of the world’s most menacing powers.  It should also be noted that candidate Trump explicitly promised that such aggression by Russia in Ukraine would not happen if he were to become President."

- Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN

For this statement and more of Simon's analysis, please review our backgrounder on Russia's insurgency against the West. Additionally, in two recent Twitter threads, Simon elaborated on his concerns of Trump's appeasement of Russia and Trump's steps that signal radical changes in US foreign policy.

Column: A Strategy for Confronting Trump, Restoring Democratic Norms

In his new column for US News, "Drawing the Line with Trump," Simon argues that Democrats need to abandon traditional responses to the Trump Presidency, and set new rules of engagement. Trump’s early, repeated trampling of democratic norms must be confronted head on now. Friday’s decision to strip legal residents of the US of their liberties without debate or consultation is the act of an autocrat or dictator, not an American President. No further evidence of his intentions are needed now.

In his piece Simon lays out four conditions for continued Democratic cooperation:

1) Stop the Executive Orders
2) Debate Your Proposals In Congress
3) Divest or Disclose
4) Honor Decorum

Trump has historically low levels of public support; voters already have grave concerns about his secret holdings and the potential for corruption; and regular people are already taking unprecedented steps to protest his early Presidency. Democrats have a great deal of running room to take a dramatic and principled stand not against Trump but in favor of the rule of law and our democratic system itself.

Release: NDN Calls on President Trump to Delay Decisions on Russia Policy until Investigations Completed

"Given the ongoing investigations by the FBI, CIA and Senate and House Committees into Russia’s penetration of America’s political system, President Trump should refrain from making any significant changes in our policy towards Russia until these investigations are complete, and Congress and the American people have an opportunity to weigh in on their findings.

Additionally, it is our belief that President Trump should put his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, on leave until he has been cleared of any connections to the Russian government by these same investigations. It is just unacceptable for Flynn to continue in such a sensitive and consequential job – particularly given the early actions by this President which appear to be in concert with Russia’s foreign policy goals – while he is being investigated by the Intelligence Community and law enforcement."

-Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN

For this statement and more of Simon's analysis, please review our backgrounder on Russia's insurgency against the West. Additionally, in two recent Twitter threads, Simon elaborated on his concerns of Trump's appeasement of Russia and Trump's steps that signal radical changes in US foreign policy.

Column: "The End of Pax Americana?"

US News and World Report has published Simon's eleventh column, "The End of Pax Americana," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday.

Be sure to also read his column, "Chin up, Democrats," in which Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics.
 
An Excerpt from "The End of Pax Americana"
 
In just his first week in office, Donald Trump has made moves that could set the nation back generations. He is trying to dismantle the global order that American built and led after World War II, which ushered in a relative Golden Age for Americans and the people of the world. For reasons that are still unclear, Trump seems intent on tearing down this successful global system without offering any kind of vision of what will replace it. Given that this system was erected as a way of preventing the developed world from slipping back into a frenzy of nationalism and protectionism that in the 1930s and '40s brought global economic collapse, mass unemployment and a World War that left tens of millions dead, this is no small matter.
 
Let's look at what Trump has said and done over the past few weeks. He unilaterally walked away from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a liberalizing trade pack with countries representing 40 percent of the global economy that would have not only extended the global system to more countries but modernized it for the Internet Age. He has called for the renegotiation of the core economic relationship with two of our three largest trading partners, Mexico and Canada, and already threatened to unilaterally leave what we call the North American Free Trade Agreement. The New York Times reports today that an executive order is coming that will dramatically cut back American support and involvement in multi-lateral institutions like the United Nations. Imposing unilateral tariffs and border taxes as Trump has threatened would begin to unravel the global trade regime that has been in place since the 1940s. He has called NATO obsolete, and has cheered on Brexit and encouraged other countries to leave the EU. On Wednesday he announced a series of highly xenophobic steps including the building of his famous wall with Mexico.
 
Taken together Trump is signaling a retreat to the very kind of politics – nationalism, protectionism, racism and xenophobia – that brought about actual carnage in much of the developed world a few generations ago.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Column: "Chin up, Democrats"

US News and World Report has published Simon's tenth column, "Chin up, Democrats," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies is Now Necessary" in which Simon argues that Trump's plan to keep all of his holdings establishes new far weaker norms, encourages public corruption, creates many new terror targets, and exposes the US to exploitation by foreign governments.

An Excerpt from "Chin Up, Democrats"

On Tuesday I tweeted out a link to a new CNN poll showing that 65 percent of Americans believe Obama's presidency was a success. Among the responses was one from a conservative friend who cited the now familiar litany of statistics showing how much power Republicans had gained during his eight years in office. He ended his tweet with "Thanks Obama."

This exchange captures the Democratic Party's current dilemma. For while the Republicans have more power, the Democrats have been by other measures a far more constructive and successful party. For the second straight administration, a young, talented Democratic outsider was elected to clean up messes left by Republicans who struggled to govern. Both times these young telegenic leaders, despite extraordinary Republican opposition and some missteps along the way, left the country far better than they found it. Both left office with some of the highest approval ratings and people saying their presidencies were a success of the entire post-WWII era of American politics. This is no small achievement.

And for all the GOP stats about decline, we have our own set that paint a more nuanced picture – more votes in six of past seven presidential elections, a feat only matched once in all of American history; a 14-point advantage (53/39) among under-45 voters who will be the dominant force in American political life for the next generation or two; a far more popular and admired party; gains in the Senate and House in 2016, not losses; a huge array of popular and well-regarded national figures.

As Trump ascends into the presidency, Democrats would be wise to give themselves far more credit for a job well done than we hear in the current discourse. Looking back over the past 80 years, there is an argument to be made that the modern Democratic Party has done more to improve the lives of people here and abroad than any organized political force in human history. In addition to leading a decades-long struggle to defeat totalitarianism in various forms, we imagined and built a global order that has ushered in an age of almost unimaginable human progress, peace and self-determination. Billions of people today across the world today have the education and opportunity to contribute to the lives of their countries; billions are living in some form of democracy where they can cast a ballot for their leaders; no great war has engulfed the planet; billions have access to life-saving medical care and modern technologies that are making the act of living itself far more fulfilling, and long.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

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